Utah family: Venezuela denying medical treatment to imprisoned man

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Dec. 12, 2017 at 4:09 PM
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Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The family of a Utah man jailed in Venezuela for more than a year said officials there are preventing him from getting medical treatment for an infection.

Josh Holt's family and lawyer said he has had an intestinal bacterial infection for three or four months, an illness that has worsened in recent days.

His mother, Laurie Holt, told the Deseret News that a Venezuelan judge signed a court order approving his transfer to a hospital two weeks ago, but prison officials ignored the order.

Lawyer Carlos Trujillo told The Salt Lake Tribune that Josh Holt is in "dire" need of medical attention. Medical professionals gave him an IV and left him in the prison.

"Literally, they're just keeping him alive," Trujillo said.

The 25-year-old's family released an audio recording of him Monday describing how he felt.

"Guys, I don't feel very good ... I'm very dizzy and I can't think and my stomach hurts," Josh Holt said. "Super bad. I don't know what to do. I've never felt like this before."

"Josh Holt is in a delicate state and therefore we ask them again that Venezuela releases him under humanitarian grounds immediately or in the alternative that our leaders in the U.S. government double their efforts in bringing him home before [it] is too late," the Holt family said.

Authorities in Venezuela arrested Josh Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno Candelo on June 30, 2016, on weapons charges days after they were married. The couple met online and Josh Holt traveled to Venezuela to meet and marry Candelo. They were to remain in Venezuela until his wife could obtain a visa to return to the United States with him.

Venezuelan officials accused Josh Holt of being a U.S. spy sent to destabilize President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

In November, the U.S. State Department called on Venezuela to release Josh Holt and criticized the country for repeatedly rescheduling his court appearances.

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